If you are going to Africa for just one climb, this is it.
The standard Marangu route is 64km (40mi) plus sidetrips if you make the summit. The majority of those who try, do not get to the top.
Technically the trek is not challenging. But anywhere between 2-10 hikers die each year from altitude sickness. It’s difficult to acclimatize while ascending 4,600m (15,000ft) from the plains to 5896m (19,344ft).
Why we (still) love it:
- the highest mountain on the continent
- no need for rope or technical experience
- one of the “seven summits”
- the most sought after trek in Africa
- the sense of accomplishment getting to Gillman’s Point on the crater rim. (Most turn back here.)
- few do the extra 2hrs or more to Uhuru peak to get a photograph with the sign “Highest Point in Africa”.
- on the Marangu Route you can sleep in huts or tents. (Other routes you must sleep in tents.)
- can be climbed year round
- enjoy almost every type of climate on one trip
- the summit actually has GSM mobile phone service for emergencies
- no independent hikers allowed since 1991
- minimum cost in 2006 is US$800 carrying your own pack.
- the Marangu route has been called filthy and overpriced
- Kilimanjaro often called the highest ‘walkable’ mountain in the world — not true. There are many volcanos higher that can be ‘walked’ in good weather and more than a few higher trekking peaks. Kilimanjaro must be the most popular of the high peaks, however.
- over 20,000 hikers in 2000
- even though the volcano is close to the equator, high up be prepared for rain, snow & bitter cold any day of the year
- warm sleeping bag needed
- you can tent instead of staying in the huts, but the cost is the same
- though technically not active, steam is released from the crater & there is a slight chance the mountain could collapse as did Mount St Helens
- normally the final climb is done at night as the scree is frozen. Many hikers start climbing at midnight. This can be a 16hr walking day!Sounds bad?There is a SMART way to go. Budget the money, then schedule a climb of lower Mt. Meru first followed by an immediate start on Kili. Use the Mt. Meru days for altitude acclimatization, not necessarily to get to the top.
If possible take one of the alternate (longer, more expensive) routes on Kilimanjaro to allow more days to acclimatize.
Details on our Kilimanjaro Marangu Route information page.
And get a good guidebook early. Over 80% of Kilmanjaro hikers book their trip from home, not in Tanzania.
Kilimanjaro: The Trekking Guide to Africa’s Highest Mountain – 2nd Edition; Now includes Mount Meru